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Published: Tuesday, 5/19/2009

Youth-police scuffle to have official review

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

According to the police who subdued 14-year-old Trevor Casey, he taunted officers, refused orders to leave the front step of a house where he did not live, and fought with them when they tried to arrest him.

To the boy's family, he was just visiting with friends and causing no disturbance Friday evening when police drove up on the grass at Brand Whitlock homes and beat him up.

The truth will be sought in an internal affairs investigation of the two officers' conduct, Toledo police Chief Mike Navarre said.

"I can acknowledge there is an internal affairs investigation and I'm really precluded from making any further comment on that investigation until it's completed and the officers have been either cleared or charged," the chief said.

He said the two officers, Byron Daniels and Andre Bills, are "outstanding officers with excellent reputations in the community."

The boy was treated Friday night at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center for a bloody nose and a cut lip, according to a police report about the incident. He was booked into the juvenile justice center for assault on a police officer.

He was expected to be released Monday night but to restricted circumstances, according to his brother, David Casey, 25.

According to a police report, the incident began when the junior high school student stopped in front of a police patrol car and "did a dance" at the Brand Whitlock Homes of the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority, near Collingwood Boulevard and Belmont Avenue. A few minutes later he was seen on the steps of 175 Brand Whitlock Homes with three other males.

Police asked if any of them lived there, and when none spoke up, officers told them to disperse. The other three left, but young Casey refused, while "talking and doing a dance."

When he refused another order to leave, he was told he was under arrest and was placed against the police car and told to put his hands behind his back. According to the report, he refused to allow himself to be handcuffed.

"The struggle intensified into a full fight," the report says.

The boy swung his free arm and struck Officer Daniels in the chest. According to the report they applied "joint pressure" and "body strikes" to control him while he was kicking and trying to break free. "Open-handed strikes were applied to the facial area," the report said.

His mother, Karen Casey, said her son's face was swollen and blood vessels in his eyes were broken.

David Casey said his brother was also struck by a billy club and knocked out. He said his brother was placed against the hood of the car and lifted his head because the hood was hot from the running engine.

The report doesn't mention a billy club.

He said his brother has had minor involvement with the police but not for anything serious.

The police report said the boy admitted to smoking marijuana before the incident.

Part of the interaction was caught on videotape and placed on YouTube, where it had been viewed more than 1,000 times by 4:30 p.m. Monday.

The unsteady video shows two police officers apparently subduing the boy with one arm around the boy's neck and with one hand over his mouth, his face bloody and appearing swollen. Then it shows him lying face-down, his wrists cuffed behind his back.

Independent Toledo city council candidate Stephen Ward held a news conference Monday in front of the Brand Whitlock rowhouse where the incident occurred.

"We have some officers who do the city no justice at all," said Mr. Ward, an independent running for one of six at-large council seats. He said some police "use the badge and authority of the office to commit crimes.

"I understand the morale of the police may be low, and their stress levels elevated due to the recent layoffs," Mr. Ward said, but he said that doesn't excuse what he called a case of police brutality.

The occupant of 175 Brand Whitlock, Shari Weems, 19, who shot the video that appears on Youtube, said the accusation of loitering was unnecessary.

"The police had no reason to come here and tell them to move," she said. "They were not causing any problems."

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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